The U.S. Citizenship Test Isn’t Tough. Here is What You Should Know.

The U.S. Citizenship Test Isn’t Tough. Here is What You Should Know.

Between 2008 and 2018, about 7.2 million people became U.S. citizens through naturalization. There are millions more in the queue waiting their turn. Only Green Card holders, who are already permanent residents in the U.S., can apply for this process.

Immigrants continually worry that they will not be able to pass the test and the interview. However, this is entirely unfounded. With proper understanding and a little preparation, anyone can pass the citizenship test and acquire voting rights. Moreover, they will be able to apply for an American passport, a symbol of pride and privilege.

We have put together a brief guide that can help you on this journey.

What Is the Naturalization Interview?

The test is not only written, but also oral. It begins with an interview with an officer of USCIS.

Don’t get scared. It is natural to be intimidated by authority figures, especially if you are an immigrant. But let us reassure you that there is nothing to be afraid of.

You will be administered an oath so that you answer truthfully and without concealing any facts. Becoming a citizen of the U.S. is coveted, and naturally, law enforcement likes to make only deserving candidates who have no blemishes in their background citizens.

The questions asked will be about:

  • Your detailed background, including country of origin and why you immigrated.
  • Your job history and line of work, both in the U.S., and in your country of origin.
  • Proof of your residence in the U.S., and your ability to support yourself and your family financially.
  • Your character and if you have a criminal past.
  • If you are willing to abide by the Oath of Allegiance and swear to protect the Constitution and laws of the U.S. against all enemies.

There will be queries about the N-400 form that you have submitted. The interviewer will ask you about every detail on the form, and verify that it is true.

In case you took a trip abroad between filing the N-400 and taking the test, you must provide exact details regarding the trip.

If you have, due to unforeseen circumstances, broken the rules of continuous residence, you have to be able to offer an excellent explanation.

How to Prepare for the Citizenship Test

Your knowledge of English and Civics will be tested.


Remember that the overall interview is meant to judge your knowledge of English. Your replies at every stage demonstrate your knowledge of English.

Do not be worried that you would be asked difficult questions about English grammar. It is quite the opposite.

This is not a test like TOEFL or IELTS meant for students from abroad. It is a simple process that takes just a few minutes.

The test has three parts:

Reading – You will be asked to read a sentence aloud. The sentences appear on a digital tablet. Even if you can’t read the first one, do not be nervous. There are three sentences in all, out of which you have to be able to read one. From this, the USCIS officer will judge your ability to read.

The sentences consist of names (such as Thomas Jefferson and Harry Truman), verbs (such as can, should, could), and long phrases such as “Declaration of Independence.”

General mispronunciation is not a cause for dismissal. The important thing is to be able to demonstrate that you understand what you read.

Writing – Similarly, you will be asked to write one sentence by hand. You have to use a stylus on a digital tablet and listen to the immigration officer carefully.

The sentence may consist of nouns, verbs, prepositions, names of months or cities, and long phrases such as “freedom of speech.”

Speaking – Your answers to every question asked during the interview determines your ability to speak English fluently. If you are unsure of your ability to answer in English, it is best that you practice with a friend or family member. A simple conversation about your life is enough to prepare you. There is no test of comprehension.


There are two situations where you are exempted from the English test.

  • If you are at least 50 years old and have lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident for at least 20 years.
  • If you are at least 55 years old and have lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident for at least 15 years.

When you complete the N-400 form, you have to specify if you want either of these exemptions, commonly known as 50/20 and 55/15.


The civics test is to check your knowledge of the U.S. government and the nation’s history. If you are not exempt, the test is by default in English.

The civics test has to be taken even if you are exempt from the English test.

The USCIS tests from 100 possible questions. You will be asked 10 of these. You have to answer at least six correctly.

These are a sample of the questions:

  1. How many members does the U.S. House of Representatives have? (435)
  2. What colors are in the American flag? (red, white, blue)


Those who qualify for the exemption from the English language test can take the civics test in their native language, such as Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, or Vietnamese. The USCIS website provides an updated list of available languages at the time of the N-400 application.

If your preferred language is not on the list, you can bring an interpreter who is fluent in English and your native language.

Those who are 65 years and older have to take a simplified version of the civics test.

Recent Update

On December 1st 2020, the Trump administration changed the civics test. Instead of 100 questions, the question bank was increased to 128 possible questions.

The interviewee was to be asked 20 out of these 128 questions. At least 12 had to be correctly answered to pass.

Upon the inauguration of Joe Biden as U.S. president, his administration overturned this change. Starting April 19th 2021, the test reverted to its original format.


We hope we have been able to assure you that t process is simple, easy, and straightforward. If you do not pass, you can take the test again after you file a new application. You will, of course, remain a permanent resident of the U.S. That is not affected at all.

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